This was supposed to be a fairy tale. Or at least, I thought it was.
It was going to be this beautiful fairy tale about a deity I had made up a long time ago. And I was going to write it so you’d love her the same way I loved her. I was going to make you think differently about trash and about discarding things. I was going to make you feel wanted.
Her name is Inanis. A girl with paper skin, looking after all the unwanted things. I always liked the idea that things are never lost. Be they socks or memories, everything ends up somewhere in this wide, wide universe. So I pretended that all the things relegated from our lives came to Inanis, to her little void between nowhere and everywhere. For her to love and treasure, because no one else would.
Inanis is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Or maybe, you have seen her before, just that you’ve forgotten. Her skin is paper, so as you see her running bare bodied across her world you would think she is just another memory falling to the floor. Her eyes are the only colour you will see on her. The brightest blue. Her hair is made of long, thin strips of paper dotted with white paper beads. Like someone tore them up without much thought. When she moves, it’s like a rustle of piano scores falling off the table. Or a paper plane navigating its way between falling autumn leaves. She’s light because she’s nothing but paper. She’s hollow because you think there’s nothing to her.
Inanis is that one girl you used to love. She is that person from high school whom you made fun of and didn’t realise had died yesterday. She is the person you wanted to be when you were younger. She is the person you were when you were younger. The person you admired. The person you hated. All in all, Inanis is someone you simply keep forgetting to remember.
I hope you can see why I was so attracted to the idea of her.
Maybe the look of unwanted things just appealed to me. I loved imagining the origins and futures of pieces of junk. Just the other day, a customer from the bookstore where I work had carelessly crumpled and left behind a note on my counter. It had written on it the title of a book called “Yoga for Stuttering”. I imagined the person who had left it and how beautiful her stutter must have been. I imagined her scrawling on the paper with her green pen and trying to ‘fix’ herself with a book.
Daydreams like this one always lead me to Inanis. Inanis and her love for lost things.
You see, Inanis looks at everything that arrives in her world. Once in a while, she’ll throw small welcoming parties to make them feel at home. Saturnalia of all kinds are her forte. She would pick out shards of broken glass and tuck them into her paper hair, forming a sparkly tiara. She would give you a seat, be you human or animal or plant or object. Then, she would cook up a lovely recipe someone’s grandmother had brought to her grave. And you could dance with her in her dusty old wedding dresses.
As well-formed as my ideas of Inanis seemed to be, I was struggling to write this piece. There exist up to three or four different versions of the same story, all revolving around Inanis. I just felt so strongly that it had to be written in the style of a fairy tale. Inanis deserved the likes of Neil Gaiman and I aspired to do her justice.
During the same few weeks, I had my own little fairy tale. I was dating someone for the first time ever.
I had never so much as garnered the attention of even one decent guy so far, so having someone come up to me and showing interest was something completely foreign. Dancing and talking deep into the night, it all seemed thrilling. My hopelessly romantic imagination ran wild. It felt surreal.
I realise now that fairy tales are just sparkly misrepresentations of the truth, made with a shimmer that can blind us.
After sending the piece in, I was struck by this odd, metallic taste. It felt wrong and I knew it was wrong. In my heart, I actually knew how half-assed it was. Writers trying to force out their work never succeed, do they? I just couldn’t see another way out of it. I needed help. So when Derek sent it back to me with the most constructive and truthful criticism I had ever received, it really felt like I had just snapped out of some madness that had taken hold of me. He was right. It was a jarring read and none of my flow was there at all. I think I was finally disillusioned and the shimmer had lost its shine.
All my life, I had coveted fairy tales. So much so that I even tried to force myself into writing one out. I wanted my dusty piano bones and broken book spines to be fixed into magically new things. Why couldn’t I see the beauty in them as they were all this while?
I remember saying to my friend Sara that I wasn’t the one to write this story. That someone else with better skill than I should write it instead.
All she said was that it was my idea. And I was the only one who could write it.
The things that both Derek and Sara told me made me rethink everything I’ve been trying to do with my life. The next few days were spent dismantling myself into tiny bits and pieces.
I think I found out why I truly fell in love with Inanis and her world to begin with.
I was one of her discarded children. I had long thrown myself away and I guess the idea of ending up somewhere else where someone could actually want me made things a lot easier. The idea that if something can be thrown away, it can also be reclaimed. So I spent most of my life just waiting for someone to come claim me, as if I were some shaggy puppy on the side of the road, or a lost child crying in a supermarket. And this wasn’t just an unhealthy obsession for David Tennant or a longing for the poetry of Shane Koyczan. It was a child’s hope that I clung on to.
Some part of me thought that if I just found someone, everything would be fixed. This void would be filled and I would actually know what it meant to be wanted, to not constantly question myself and feel inferior. But when the time actually came and someone claimed me, nothing changed. No magic happened. No romantic flower petals fell from the sky. No pink-edged frames and sunsets. Nothing changed at all.
It was just me and him. With nothing in common and nothing to say. Him with his lack of self and me with my loss of self.
And so I ended it. Confused and dazed, like coming out of a dark cinema only to be greeted by a burst of overwhelming sunlight. A glass had shattered. If this didn’t solve anything, what would? I had concocted this perfect idea of love in my head and it was totally wrong. Since then, it seems I have adopted a pessimistic, almost cynical view on relationships as a whole. Every couple I see looks like they’re faking it. Like it’s all just hands and waists and nothing else. They aren’t really happy. Even the words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ and ‘couple’ seem so superficial now. Like none of them really matter.
I caught myself thinking all these things yesterday and I just stopped. How had I come from being a hopeless romantic with crazy, idealistic views on love to this cold-hearted wench? He had broken me and all I wanted was for Inanis to take away all these memories, and give me back the days when I could daydream the most clouded thoughts.
I felt childish and stupid and pathetic for being so blinded. I couldn’t believe how I had forgotten all the things I had sworn to myself when I was younger. At the start of the year, I had smiled into the nights of firework displays, thinking that it was all over. That the loneliness and the self-doubt were never going to find me again. Little did I know that my masochistic tendencies were in play as usual.
I think I wish myself into the worst situations and relish the misery that comes after. I had subconsciously wanted a car crash of epic proportions. Worse yet, I had to write it all down to immortalise it. Part of the reason I wanted this fairy tale was because I thought I was finally happy. Like I didn’t need to be pensive and emotional anymore. I didn’t want to write honest, stream-of-thought pieces any more because to be honest, they always hurt. It’s like cutting yourself open and going in search of ugly, grotesque things and then prodding at them till they bite you. Every single time. And I thought I didn’t need it anymore. Who knew that instead of writing it, I was living it.
Someone had finally come around to pick me up and out of Inanis’ world and I thought I could finally start writing fairy tales. Well, he failed. And I failed. Now all he is is everything I ever hated about myself, a living embodiment of all my past mistakes; a car crash that didn’t end tragically enough for the masochistic Felice.
I feel like a terrible person. I feel like I unwittingly used him for some sick self-gratification. I feel like he used me without really knowing the damage he was causing. I feel like he never felt anything at all and I feel like I felt all the wrong things. I feel grimy and dirty. And I’m sorry I dragged him into this mess.
Maybe some day, I will find someone to fix me and my newfound pessimism.
But right now, I think I’m the only one who can get me out of Inanis’ labyrinth. I threw myself away and I should be the one to reclaim myself. I loved it and hated it here but I think, Inanis, it’s time I scrawled my way out and left you to look at newer things. Things that need you.
I know there are going to be days when I feel that this world is nothing more than a mine shaft, but I think I’ll be okay. I’m gonna get there. Starting with small things maybe. I’m not going to tell myself I’m worthless any more. I’m not going to drown myself amongst the trash anymore. I’m tired of being this cliché of a teenager. I’m not going to wait for anyone anymore.
Great, now I’m crying. I’m sorry. This is all bullshit.
This was supposed to be a fairytale.
Image is ‘Girl unmasked‘ by daliborlev on Flickr.
Felice is a girl in the middle of a transitional period.